Thursday, June 25, 2009

Whisk Wednesdays—Soufflé au Comté (Cheese Soufflé)

Soufflé au Comté (Cheese Soufflé)
I've fallen...
I have sunk so low
Sarah McLachlan – Fallen
The word soufflé is irresistible as it blows over your tongue and through your teeth. {It's a word in French that you can say without your French Immersion daughters laughing at your pronunciation.} It means breath, or to take one's breath away. Which is exactly what happens. As you hold your breath, the soufflé takes a breath and falls.

In the unfair world of food, a chocolate soufflé is allowed to take a breath, but a cheesy egg soufflé is not. This soufflé is filled with a cheese called comté (pronounced con-tay) from a terroir that spans the Jura and the Doubs departments in France. This region learned how to transform milk into a cheese that could be preserved and gained status as one of the first cheeses with the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) signature. Unfortunately, I couldn't find this distinguished cheese in my grocery store so I used a humble, but satisfying tangy Swiss cheese instead.

RouxbéchamelMornaymeringue are all techniques learned in previous classes that merge in this recipe to make a delicate, diva-like, spectacular dish. First, prepare the milk by bringing it to a boil. Don't turn your back on it for too long or the neglected mixture will punish you with spilled, scorched milk on your stove. While watching the milk, make a roux. Whisk in the hot, un-neglected milk and stir until the sauce becomes thick. Now the sauce is christened a béchamel. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Simmer and whisk for awhile to encourage the flavors to develop and avoid burning and sticking. Remove it from the heat and add the cheese. Now it's named Mornay. Next whisk in the yolks and set aside.

The last step is to make a meringue. After the meringue is at its perfect, softly-whipped-but-holding peaks stage, sacrifice some of it (about a third) to lighten the Mornay mixture. Carefully fold in the remaining whites {remembering your Grandma looking over your shoulder as you folded the egg whites into waffle batter when you were just a head taller than the counter, pointing out all the whites that needed hiding}.

Even pouring the mixture into the soufflé dish requires a patient, careful hand. You must avoid dripping any batter on the sides so that the soufflé can climb the dish without touching a patch of burnt-on batter. Then you must tap the dish gently to remove air bubbles. After putting it in the oven, you must not open the oven door while it's baking. And you must not slam the oven door. {Whisper soufflé and blow it a kiss.}

Finally, after baking, hold your breath. Carefully remove the soufflés from the oven. Exhale slowly. {Photograph quickly.} Devour.


Serves 6

Soufflé au Comté (Cheese Soufflé) mise en place
1¼ cups grated Comte or other imported Swiss cheese such as Gruyere or Emmenthal
1¼ cups milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
White pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 eggs, separated
Unsalted butter, softened, for soufflé mold

You can find the recipe for Soufflé au Comté (Cheese Soufflé) in the book Le Cordon Bleu at Home. To see how the rest of the Whisk Wednesdays group fared with their recipe, click here (or check out the sidebar) and then click on each blogger!

Tasting Notes
This is a creamy, airy and comforting dish that gives you a faint whistle before deflating. Not difficult to make, but impressive if you're courageous, especially if you attempt to add bacon, lobster or asparagus. Taste and enjoy its fleeting beauty.

"The only thing that will make a soufflé fall is if it knows you are afraid of it."
— James Beard
• 65 sq foot kitchen: Leeks and Gruyère Soufflé, Step-by-Step
• Behind the Burner: How to Make Cheese Soufflé (video)
• Chef de Cuisine: Soufflé
• La Tartine Gourmande: Soufflé, if I Blow, Will it Fall?

Next Class
• Bavarois à la Vanille, Coulis de Framboise (Vanilla Bavarian Cream with Raspberry Coulis)

. . . . . . . . . .

Running total: $1,425.65 + $8.76 = $1,434.41
($1.46 per serving)

Butter used so far: 12 pounds, 23.5 tablespoons

. . . . . . . . . .
::Whisk Wednesdays::
We're cooking our way through a cooking school curriculum using the Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. The "classes" are based on the Le Cordon Bleu curriculum found online and used as a guideline. Not all the items in the curriculum are in the cookbook, but most are. Where the items are not in the book, we try to find a suitable substitution. Find out more here.
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    Manggy said...

    Ah, a dish certainly worthy of its diva status-- worth it alone for that golden crusted top of cheese and browned milk proteins. Heaven!

    Deeba PAB said...

    Elegant souffle's beautiful! WOW!! I love the idea of doing it in the cup.

    NKP said...

    Beautiful! This is one of those dishes on my list of things to make... but I am afraid to make!
    I love your descriptions.

    Kayte said...

    Looks absolutely wonderful and delicious. Loved the whole are always so great.

    pigpigscorner said...

    Looks gorgeous! Love souffles, so light and delicious! and I looooove comte! But I've only seen it being sold at the farmers market.

    Unknown said...

    Your souffle looks gorgeous! I've always wanted to try making a souffle but I'm a bit intimidated!

    lisa is cooking said...

    Your souffle is beautiful! I recall attempting to photograph a breakfast souffle and watching it fall with each snap.

    Anonymous said...

    Your souffle looks perfect! Great job.

    katie said...

    brave stuff.
    I like the video.. it adds a lot to the instruction. win!

    CookiePie said...

    Oooooh - I LOVE cheese souffle!! Perfect supper with a nice green salad. I haven't made one in a while... you're inspiring me!

    Sippity Sup said...

    I am so glad I did not miss this! Yea! That video though? You look and sound different than I imagined huh...GREG

    pam said...

    Impressive! Definitely not something I plan on attempting!

    Michele said...

    I have not made a souffle in ages; yours looks fantastic!

    Anonymous said...

    can you believe I've never tried souffles before? This pic really makes me question WHy the heck I never have. Souffle is in my mission now!

    vibi said...

    Gotta try this very pretty and delicate presentation, but of course, the recipe itself... so I'm hitting the closest cheese shop, pretty soon! Mmmm... looks amazinly good, hopefully it is not too hard to get such fluffy results!

    Di said...

    Gorgeous! I love the browned top. I've never made a soufflé, but when I do, minis sound like a great way to go.

    Engineer Baker said...

    Gorgeous! And to think - I've never had a souffle before. Might have to try it!

    grub girls said...

    Hi, we think your blog is amazing! We are just starting our own, and were wondering if you would perhaps like to exchange blog links. We are constantly adding more content, and would love your support! Your blog is a true inspiration for ours.

    <3, the grub girls

    Aimée said...

    This is so elegant, Shari! It would be ideal served on a bed of my fresh garden greens. Hmm, lunch tomorrow?

    Monica H said...

    I have an award for you!

    Anonymous said...

    I still love reading your posts! It's like getting the mini-lecture I should have read before I jumped into making the dish myself! Your souffle looks simply marvelous! Now this one, I may make exception for with the heat!

    nick said...

    "Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg."

    I'm always stymied to think they used to use "clove studded onions" in bechamel preparation (not to mention at times, veal).

    When I make this I like a combination of Comte & Gruyere, with a hint of dried mustard. A much simpler, yet comparably tasty cheese "puff" dish is a gougère, made of choux pastry and cheese. These are great for parties (you can pipe out 100 of em in no time flat) but certainly lack that impressive look of your souffle!

    Anonymous said...

    ooh i love how you put it in a cup! that is so cute!

    EB said...

    Is there anything more gorgeous? And really.... my favorite cooking instruction ever... "hold your breath" :)

    Stacey said...

    I love how you are keeping a running tally on the amount of butter you have used! For me ignorance is bliss. :)

    Your souffle turned out beautiful- good job. I am way to intimidated to try yet. Instead I just observe my mother-in-law when she makes them! One day...

    Lori said...

    Just gorgeous! I love souffle, savory or sweet. I always think I am going to take on the challenge to make it, then lose my nerve. I'm going to have to follow through eventually!

    Marta said...

    I believe I've been to your blog before, but I don't recall commenting. I just remember liking your banner a lot and noticing you live in Ottawa. I did my MSc there, nice town!
    I adore your blog, I love the butter and money calculations at the bottom (wow, it adds up quick!) I also really enjoy the concept of your blog and how you've worked your way through culinary school at home!
    Your photos are immaculate!!
    I'll continue to visit you!!!
    This souffle looks delicious, even if you couldn't find comte! said...

    Amazing ! Souffle the photos are beautiful!

    Thanks for sharing your recipe:)

    Join our growing food cummunity post your recipe~ and your comments
    and if you can visit me I can visit you

    Have a great Day~~

    Eliana said...

    Great post and wonderful video.

    Madam Chow said...

    Oh, I LOVE this cheese, and I love souffle. I'm bookmarking this one!